Unleashing the Power of the Female Factor

Valuable insights from inspiring women leaders in tech

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we spent time with three female leaders within the Wesley Clover International ecosystem of technology companies to shine a spotlight on the diverse and inspiring female voices shaping tech and our industry and to gain valuable insights. We met with Hannah Williams, CEO at Alacrity Foundation, Jian Cheng, Senior Full Stack Developer at Edge Signal, and Tiffani Westerman, CEO at WCS North America.

While all three hold very different roles, with diverse backgrounds and unique experiences, a common thread exists: Female representation in tech is a strategic imperative as it brings diverse perspectives and experiences to decision-making processes.

During our conversation, Tiffani reminded us of something the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said:

Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.

Here are more takeaways from our inspiring discussions with Tiffani, Jian, and Hannah.

Question: As a female engineer/CEO in tech, where and how do you see you – and more importantly – your gender and experience, contributing to improving innovation and overall success?

“I like the saying ‘When you’re busy, you get things done’, and it holds true for me,” explained Hannah who joined Alacrity Foundation to build on her experience as an entrepreneur to help mentor and train graduate entrepreneurs to create tech companies. “I wear about ten different hats. I’m a mom, a stepmom, a colleague, a wife, a CEO, the list goes on. Often more so than men, women are expected and skilled at juggling various hats simultaneously to manage a very complex set of responsibilities both at work and at home. This skill is invaluable to any team.”

“Females can act like glue within a team, contributing to the overall success the same as men, while injecting a different perspective,” said Jian. With 15+ years of software programming experience, Jian is in a unique situation – being a senior developer, female, Chinese, an immigrant, and currently the only female on a small start-up team that is tasked to build an AI-powered edge computing platform, Edge Signal. She added: “I’m very proud of what I have achieved thus far. After having worked for many large organizations, I now found my place at a small start-up company, and I believe my unique experience is highly valuable – not only to the team but also to the success of the product and company. In my opinion, females soften the competitiveness within a team. Being the only female, I believe I am more attentive and show more care. This attention to detail can act like glue to bring the team together, but it also benefits the product.”

Tiffani explained: “As a woman, my lived experiences may differ from those of my male counterparts. These unique perspectives allow me to identify opportunities and challenges that may have been overlooked or underestimated. By embracing diverse viewpoints, we can uncover innovative solutions that address a broader range of customer needs and market demands. This also allows us to foster an environment of open discussions.” She added: “As a woman in a predominantly male-dominated field, my presence as a CEO sends a powerful message about the importance of diversity in leadership. By promoting diversity at the top, we foster a more inclusive work culture where a wide range of voices and ideas are heard and valued. This diversity in leadership often leads to more innovative solutions and better decision-making processes.”

“I thoroughly enjoy the dynamics within the Edge Signal team,” explained Jian. “My male counterparts, and especially the younger generation, give me a lot of stimulation, ideas, and different perspectives. I am often trusted with crucial product details because of my attention to detail and persistence, which I see as more female traits, but that’s why the team comes together perfectly! Everyone contributes differently and our respective skills complement each other.”

Tiffani added: “My position as CEO of professional services company WCS North America serves as a role model for other women and girls interested in pursuing careers in STEM. By demonstrating that it’s possible for women to achieve leadership roles in this industry, I hope to inspire future generations of female innovators and entrepreneurs. Increased representation ultimately leads to more diverse talent entering the field, which fuels innovation and drives success. I am committed to driving cultural change within my organization and the tech industry as a whole. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion, we can create a more supportive and empowering workplace where all employees can thrive and contribute to our collective success.”

“Tech is still a predominantly male sector,” Hannah concluded. “We need to break through and get more females into tech, especially at decision making levels. If females were given a bit more of a helping hand to open doors, it would be a very different society. Currently in the UK, only 2% of investor capital is invested in female founder businesses. This is just one of the many reasons why only 20% of businesses in the UK are female founded. We all have a role to play in raising awareness for female founded businesses, to buy from them, follow them, promote them!”

Question: What strategies or initiatives do you believe are most effective in promoting gender diversity and inclusion within the tech sector? How does gender diversity help better R&D and/or product/service development? Do you personally play a role in advocating for these changes?

“I don’t go to work just to make money,” said Jian. “I want to achieve something to show my value in the organization. If I’m in a comfort zone, I’m not happy. I need a challenge! And I want to be with the product – working on it, perfecting it and finding new ways to solve a problem.” Jian described her excitement when a recruiter presented her with the opportunity to join a small Wesley Clover technology startup, which later became Edge Signal. “I lead by example,” Jian explained. “I put my everything into the product, attend to the details, achieve results, and deliver.”

Tiffani responded: “My experiences and leadership contribute to the broader narrative of empowering women in tech by serving as tangible examples of what’s possible and by actively advocating for gender equality and inclusion within the industry. I lead by example and demonstrate that women can succeed in leadership roles within this traditionally male-dominated field. By breaking barriers and achieving success, I inspire other women to pursue their ambitions and strive for leadership positions in tech.”

Hannah said: “If you can see her, you can be her. This saying holds true when it comes to women in tech. We all need a strong role model. That’s why we need to encourage female founding and funding to drive change.” Having been part of Newport-based brewery venture Tiny Rebel since its inception, Hannah added: “Starting a business is a minefield, especially when trying to obtain funding or understanding start-up costs and capital. Having been through the process and knowing the pitfalls, I want to support the individuals in their journeys throughout each stage. I’m excited to be in a position to open doors to alternative contacts that are able to help them.”

Tiffani added: “I actively mentor and support other women in tech, offering guidance, advice, and encouragement as they navigate their careers. Having played a significant role in founding a female mentorship program and continuing to mentor new graduates entering the workforce, I firmly believe in the depth of mentorship for women, emphasizing its importance not just at the onset of their careers but throughout their entire professional journey. This ongoing guidance underscores the vital role that sustained mentorship plays in nurturing and advancing women’s careers at every stage. I also actively use my platform and influence to advocate for policies and initiatives that promote gender diversity and inclusion within the tech sector. This includes pushing for equal opportunity and fostering inclusive work cultures where all employees feel valued and empowered to succeed.”

Question: How do you see your experiences/leadership contributing to the broader narrative of empowering women in tech? What advice would you offer to aspiring female professionals looking to enter or advance in this field?

“Everyone gets imposter syndrome,” Hannah admitted. “Ignore it, it’s normal. Don’t let that stop you from doing anything. Have the confidence to go bash doors down and make a difference because you are also inspiring the younger generation that we need to change society.”

“I was born an engineer,” said Jian. “My dad is an engineer, and having just one sister, my parents always told us that girls can do the same as boys – encouraging us to excel at math, physics, etc. I’m often being asked about the advice I’d give to female professionals looking to pursue engineering and I always answer by saying that every person is different. Your unique character will define whether you are meant for engineering. Do you approach problems by looking at different ways to solve them?” Jian added: “At some point in your career you might encounter a barrier. It’s important to remember that it may not only be you who encounters it. It may not be because you are female. Maybe it’s your knowledge, or you are stuck because the project is too hard and you don’t know how to solve it. This is normal in tech, and you need to continuously learn and have curiosity and you will be able to overcome these barriers.”

Laughing, Jian admitted: “I’m determined and head strong. I enjoy deep exploration and ‘unstucking’ myself by trying everything before I ask for help. This is how you understand things better. Once you solve those problems, you really understand them.”

Tiffani shared the following advice with aspiring female professionals looking to enter or advance in the tech field: “Believe in yourself: Have confidence in your abilities and believe that you belong in the tech industry. Trust in your skills and knowledge, and don’t be afraid to pursue your goals with determination and perseverance. Be unapologetically ambitious!”

Tiffani added: “Surround yourself with supportive mentors who can offer guidance, advice, and encouragement as you navigate your career path. Learn from their experiences and insights, and don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Also, stay curious and keep learning. The tech industry is constantly evolving, so it’s essential to stay informed about new technologies, trends, and developments. Invest in your professional development through courses, workshops, and networking opportunities. Cultivate relationships with other professionals in the tech industry, both within and outside your organization. Networking can open doors to new opportunities, provide valuable insights, and support your career growth. There are so many great networks that you can join online now and attend their networking events.“

“I don’t see barriers. I see opportunities,” Hannah concluded. “Just like Anne Boden, Founder of Starling Bank said: You might as well aim so high, that it’s so audacious, if it fails it doesn’t matter.”

Gender diversity in the tech industry is not just a matter of equality. It is a crucial element for innovation, creativity, and sustainability. Join us as we amplify the stories and experiences of women who are driving change, breaking barriers, and paving the way for a more inclusive future in tech.

To learn more about our technology ecosystem of global companies, visit wesleyclover.com/portfolios/technology.


Wesley Clover invests in a range of technology companies, and they bring impressive innovation to markets and clients around the globe. I/O is our way of sharing some of the best insights. I trust you will enjoy them.

Terry Matthews, Chairman